Copyright©2006; By Carl Cox
Does it matter how dressed you are to make a difference and get notice by the others?
…..And so it was that the two friends found themselves walking home, the wooden box cradled gently under David’s arm.
“I can’t believe it,” David said. “With this mask, I’m going to win the contest for sure.”
Marcus nodded, distracted by something across the street.
“Hey,” he said, “isn’t that the house of that weird girl in school? You know, the one who just moved here last month. What’s her name, Sara?”
David nodded. “Yeah. I heard she had some kind of problem in her last school. That’s why she moved here.”
“The only problem I see is her face,” Marcus said. “She’s just about the ugliest girl I’ve ever seen.”
David said nothing, but secretly agreed with Marcus’ assessment. Sara was perhaps the most unattractive female he had ever seen in his life. Her nose was long and misshapen, and protruded like a bird’s beak from between her watery eyes. Her ears were set too low on her head, and her long, square chin was covered with a rash of pimples and blackheads. In a way, David felt sorry for her; nobody at school would talk to her, and she spent most of her time alone.
The two boys studied the house for a moment. A sudden movement caught their attention; someone had lifted the edge of a curtain, as though looking out onto the street, and then quickly dropped it again.
“Jeez, she’s watching us,” said Marcus. “That gives me the creeps.”
“She’s all right,” David said.
“All right? That girl’s so ugly that when she was born, the doctor slapped her mother.”
“Come on,” David said. “It’s not Sara’s fault, the way she looks.”
“It’s not my fault either,” said Marcus, “so why should I have to look at her?”
David said nothing, and they continued on their way. In a few minutes they had arrived at Marcus’s house, where they proceeded to put on their costumes. Marcus began to make himself into a zombie cowboy, complete with boots, hat, and a liberal application of a special make-up that made him look as if he had been dead for many years. David’s costume was more elaborate; he had borrowed an old suit jacket, and had a placed foam rubber in various parts of it to make him look as though he had a hunchback. Of course, the most important part of the outfit was the mask, and he carefully opened the box to remove its precious rubber contents.
“Here we go,” he said, and slipped the mask over his head.
Marcus studied him with admiration. “That is the most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “You’re going to win that contest for sure.”
David smiled, although Marcus couldn’t see him beneath the mask. “Thanks,” David said, his voice slightly muffled. “Come on, let’s go.”
They made the short walk to the high school, where the party was being held. Although not old enough to attend the school yet, their class had gotten permission to hold the party in the spacious gymnasium. A parent volunteer checked their school IDs at the door, then showed them into the interior, where several young people were already milling about the tables containing snacks and punch.
The gym itself was decorated with orange and black bunting, and several large spider webs made with kite string stretched across the walls; in the center of each sat a fat black spider constructed of Styrofoam balls with pipe-cleaner legs. Most of the young people had formed themselves into a small groups, although some of the more precocious of them had paired off into couples, and were holding hands or secretly kissing in a darkened corner. David looked around for Jessica.
“I don’t see her,” David said. “She’ll be here. In fact, isn’t that her over there with Kyle Anderson?”
David looked in the direction Marcus indicated, and felt his stomach sink. Jessica was standing next to Kyle, the most popular boy in their class. She was laughing at something he said, and was holding tighly to his hand.
Jessica was dressed as a princess, a vision in pink, while Kyle’s costume was of a football player, complete with helmet and shoulder pads.
“Don’t worry,” Marcus said. “After you win, she’ll be dying to talk to you.”
They spent the next hour and a half wandering around the room, making conversation and drinking soda. David kept watching for an opportunity to talk to Jessica, but she never let go of Kyle’s hand, even for a moment. Throughout the evening, the judges for the costume contest circulated among the children, inspecting each costume for design and originality. Finally, Mr. Davis, the history teacher, took the microphone…..
I wonder if he won. Would Jessica notice him now?